Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

There’s No Earthly Way You Can Watch All the TV Tonight

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Unless you're Adrian Veidt or James Woods in Videodrome and (spoiler alert) your stomach has turned into a weird VCR vagina, there's no way you'll be able to keep up with all the television you are required BY LAW to watch this evening. Seriously, the Sunday afternoon/evening lineup is so daunting…[How daunting is it??]...well, it's so daunting that you're just better off ensconcing yourself in a blanket fort with a box of no-frills graham crackers and letting the people you interact with on Mondays ruin plot points for you, piece by piece.

The New York Times doesn't think, in this space-age of the magic DVR player, that it's cute for networks to cram all their best programming into a single evening. DVRs will be logjammed! At least a million viewers will try to juggle more than three programs at once, and end up recording The Good Wife three times. By the time most Americans even make it to the prime time slots, they'll no doubt be exhausted, having watched San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers suffer the first on-field brain aneurysm that they won't have the energy to watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler perform a variety of show tunes at the Golden Globes, which begin in earnest at 8:00 pm EST and continue for approximately 17.5 hours, precluding any serious viewing of either Downton Abbey at 9:00 or Girls at 10:00.

So why do networks torture people like this, making the last day of weekend an exercise in planning, scheduling, and, ultimately, unfulfillment? Because you're all suckers, that's why! From the Times:

Though it may seem counterintuitive to frustrated viewers, the networks say there are historical, anthropological and basic logistical reasons that a Sunday night time slot is so coveted.

Over decades of television viewing, audiences have developed a primal relationship with Sunday night, which finds them in a mood that is particularly receptive to narratives and the experiences of other people.

"It has both the anticipation and dread of the following week, so you're in an emotional state," [Ron] Simon said. "It's a perfect evening to play off the emotions of your viewer."

Networks recognize these responses in viewers, and understand the message they are communicating to audiences by putting a show on Sunday. As David Nevins, the president of entertainment at Showtime and the architect of hits like "Homeland" and "Masters of Sex," explained in an interview, "I am putting it on Sunday night because I want to signal to the audience: This show matters. This is a big show."


So, based on ANTHROPOLOGY and LOGIC, TV executives have decided to sell people on the idea that a show is important just because it's the very last diversion they'll enjoy before returning to their soul-crushing jobs Monday morning. That's sort of like a grocery store deciding to move a piece of old meat to the front of the display case and dressing it up with fancy accessories. Like a hat. Or a dignified tobacco pipe. No, no, no — there are better analogies. It's really like if a grocery store moved all the groceries to the peanut butter shelves, and just packed everything — fish, eggs, milk, bran, waffles, toilet paper — between the peanut butter, thus tricking people into thinking that all of those groceries should be purchased and consumed immediately. With peanut butter.

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